Make a Kazoo

Make a vibrating instrument that changes the sound of your voice.

Materials

  • toilet paper tubes
  • waxed paper (cut in small squares, about 2 ´ 2 inches)
  • rubber bands
  • a sharpened pencil for each child
  • Squeak, Rumble, Whomp, Whomp, Whomp!, with a bookmark in the page that shows the boy playing a kazoo (a few pages from the end).
  • audio recorder

Key Science Concepts

  • Sounds vary in volume (loud or soft), and pitch (high or low).
  • A sound becomes louder when the force of the action that is creating the sound is increased (for example, when you hit a drum harder). A sound becomes softer, or quieter, when the force is decreased.
  • Sounds seem different when they travel through a hollow object.
  • Sound is caused by vibration.

Vocabulary

Use and repeat key terms such as vibrate and pitch, and descriptive words such as high, low, and buzz.

Directions

Tell children that they are going to make an instrument called a kazoo. Show children the picture of the kazoo from Squeak, Rumble, Whomp . . . Tell them this is a fun instrument that anyone can learn to play. The kazoo will be made from a cardboard tube—ask if this reminds them of any activities they did last week (Listening and Talking Through Tubes).

  1. Have children wrap waxed paper tightly over the end of the tube and secure the waxed paper with a rubber band. Then have them use a pencil to make a hole in the middle of the tube (you may have to assist younger children with this). This allows air to escape when they hum or sing into their kazoo.
  2. Have them place the open end of the kazoo lightly over their mouth and say, “Ahhh!” What happens? Suggest they sing or hum a tune into it. Ask them to experiment and find out what kinds of sounds a kazoo can make. Record some of the sounds the children make.
  3. Have them cover the hole they made on the side of the kazoo with their fingers while playing it. What happens? Doe the hole make it easier or harder to play the kazoo? What do they think might be the reason?

Reflect and Share

Ask children to describe what a kazoo sounds like. How does it change the sound of their voice? Does it sound silly or serious, beautiful or funny? Ask children to touch the waxed paper with their finger while playing the kazoo. What do they notice? Can they feel any vibrations? Ask them to put their fingers on their neck while they talk or sing, something they tried yesterday. What do they feel? Remind them of other activities where they may also have felt vibrations (Talking Through Tubes, String Earphones, Rubber Band Music). If they felt vibrations, ask them to describe them.